United States – Group G –World Cup profile

Despite being drawn in an intensely tough group alongside Germany, Portugal and Ghana, there is plenty of confidence amongst their fans that the United States can pose a threat at the World Cup.

With Jürgen Klinsmann’s tactics starting to take shape and progress being made in friendly fixtures in the three years he has been in charge, USA may yet surprise a few of their big-name opponents.

That said, for the Americans to finish in the top two and make the round of 16, a lot of variables will need to fall their way and luck will also have to be on their side.

Confirmed squad

Ten of the 23 men selected to participate in Brazil are on the rosters of MLS clubs, showing the ever-increasing quality of the United States’ domestic campaign.

The rest are sprinkled around Europe’s various leagues, with plenty of relatively new faces making the cut; nine of the group have 20 caps or less.

However, stalwarts such as Tim Howard, Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey remain as integral members of the side.

Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

Defenders: DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Timmy Chandler (Nürnberg), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Mönchengladbach), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders FC)

Midfielders: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Julian Green (Bayern Munich), Jermaine Jones (Besiktas), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Aron Jóhannsson (AZ Alkmaar), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

Notable absentees

The major surprise in the United States’ selection was the omission of Landon Donovan, who has been arguably the nation’s best and most-distinguished player of the last generation.

The country’s highest-ever goalscorer, the decision puts pressure on others in the squad to hit the back of the net.

Other experienced faces have been left at home, with the likes of Maurice Edu, Eddie Johnson, Jonathan Spector and Oguchi Onyewu not with the contingent.

Coach profile

Jurgen KlinsmannJürgen Klinsmann has a point to prove at the tournament after having more than enough time to fine-tune his squad.

Given that USA will face their coach’s home country Germany, who he also managed, there will be something of a personal grudge for the former Tottenham attacker.

The 49-year-old has had to answer his critics after Donovan’s omission, with only time telling whether the decision could come back to haunt Klinsmann.

Formation / tactics

USA will more than likely line-up in a flexible 4-2-3-1 formation that can become increasingly attacking or defensive in contrasting circumstances.

Everton’s Tim Howard recently won his 100th cap and will start in goal for the Stars and Stripes, with a relatively settled back four in front of him.

MLS-based centre-backs Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler are the most likely to get the nod at the heart of the defence, with the full-back positions open for consideration.

In midfield, Michael Bradley is a nailed-on starter and will be asked to add energy and a box-to-box threat from the centre of the pitch. Combative and able Jermaine Jones is his most likely partner.

Clint Dempsey is the captain of the side and will be given a free reign in the number ten role, with the former Fulham playmaker charged with the task of making something happen in the final third.

Jozy Altidore is the favourite to lead the line as the lone frontman given his stature and continued selection, with the Sunderland man bagging a couple of goals in pre-tournament friendlies of late.

In wide areas, there is something of a buzz going around Graham Zusi, who will probably command a starting berth after good performances for Sporting Kansas City.

Against Germany and Portugal in particular, USA can expect to spend prolonged periods without the ball. In these instances it will be all-but a five-man midfield, with hopes of striking on a counter attack or at set pieces.

Key player

Michael BradleyMichael Bradley – Although Dempsey is the attacking talisman and is full of ability, it will be Michael Bradley that will be handed the responsibility of leading the side from the centre of the park.

The Toronto FC man will face three impressive-looking central midfields in Group G and will need to be at his best for USA to get a grip on possession in the fixtures.

Bradley has shown that he has an eye for goal and has plenty of ability on the ball, but may find that a large percentage of his time is spent looking to win possession back.

One to watch

Aron Jóhannsson – Although Besler and Zusi will not be familiar names for non-MLS fans and have the potential to impress, the inclusion of Aron Jóhannsson is USA’s wildcard.

The former Iceland under-21 striker has shown a predatory presence at club level, hitting 17 goals for AZ Alkmaar last term.

With Altidore’s performances hit and miss, the introduction of Jóhannsson would offer a striker in form and a more mobile player to lead the line.

Prediction

USA will certainly be no pushovers and have shown their calibre by beating the likes of Italy, Germany, Mexico and Bosnia in recent times.

However, it is fair to suggest that Klinsmann’s men are substantial underdogs given the quality of their prospective opposition.

A win against Ghana in their opening game will give the United States a chance of qualifying; anything else and it surely will be elimination at the first hurdle.

By
I am a freelance football journalist from Northern Ireland living in Broome in Western Australia. I have worked for top media outlets such as FourFourTwo, goal.com, Soccerlens, Football Fancast and Here is the City. I am a lifelong and long-suffering Tottenham fan. Follow me on Twitter at @90MinsOnline
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